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Film and Music: A Symbiotic Love Story

Megan Fair, Staff Writer

Consider the power of a soundtrack. What would (500) Days of Summer be without its indie-darling tunes or Almost Famous without its powerful rock ‘n' roll? Horror films such as Insidious would be vastly less exhilarating without the haunting use of violins and suspenseful music. Even primitive silent films were accompanied by music played in synch with their action.

It can be an expensive and complicated process acquiring the rights to use music in films; so when independent filmmakers set out to make a film, sourcing music can put a real strain on the budget. Because of this, directors and musicians must innovate to produce films that feature impressive music to accompany the cinematography on a budget.

Ohio University graduate Tim Korenich was brought on to work craft services by his video production major roommates during the annual 48-Hour Shoot Out at OU. His roommates knew what a great chef he was, so they brought him on board to sate the crew's hunger. It was here that Korenich began speaking with OU grad Joe Battaglia about Battaglia’s short film Monhegan Light. Little did they know, Korenich was about to become a crucial part of Monhegan Light’s post-production process.

As the end of the shoot out grew near, Monhegan Light's Battaglia was speaking with Korenich about the music he wished to use for his own short film, but was having a hard time pinning down exactly what he wanted. The BMI costs would have been too major an expense, so Korenich, who is also the vocalist of a band called The Beauregards, suggested that a student make the music for Battaglia’s film.

“It was a bit of an odd start, because I more or less showed [the team] a problem and presented myself as the solution,” said Korenich, who offered to show Battaglia some music that he had been working on independently. He began playing on an acoustic guitar, and as soon as he started singing Battaglia was interested.

When Korenich’s original music was officially chosen, he and Battaglia began to look for a place to record and musicians to lay down the other instrumentation. By a stroke of good timing and luck, the Monhegan Lightsoundtrack found a home at 3 Elliott Studio working with Adam Rich, an OU student producer and intern at the studio.

“The owner of 3 Elliott Studio, Josh Antonuccio, was very accommodating with equipment loaning and offering his studio at a solid rate,” said Korenich, who used some of the studio guitars on the scoring.

Most of the music that Korenich recorded, while somewhat influenced by the creative requests of Battaglia, was work that he had hoped to record anyways, and the film budget covered the cost of recording.

“I told them, ‘I can help you, and you can help me.’ It was a great symbiotic relationship,” said Korenich. “They made a really solid movie, and we got a chance to record my own music for not much money.” The music had to be recorded with very little notice, so the crew rushed to gather as many of Athens’ musicians as they could find, which wasn’t very difficult.

“Athens has a great music community and people are more than willing to make music for the sake of making music. We paid the musicians in pulled pork sandwiches one day, and it’s so cool that they were willing to do that,” explained Korenich. “Everyone who helped with the recording and the whole process was incredible. A lot of amazing people gave up a lot of time to make something awesome for me and the whole film, and I think it turned out wonderfully.”

Korenich intends to release the music he recorded for Monhegan Light, and he will be releasing most of the songs he recorded as well as a few others as a solo EP at some point in the future. Korenich said, “[The EP] is going to sound so much better because of the Athens musicians that worked on it.”

Not only did Korenich benefit from the experience, but so did Battaglia. “You have a hand in creating the emotion musically and visually when you use original music, so you have the most control over what the people are feeling, hearing and seeing. You can play the audience like a puppet, which is exactly what you hope for as a director,” said Battaglia.

Korenich expressed that the film was not particularly difficult to score as there was a lot of material already suited to the mood that he had previously written, and Battaglia knew exactly what he wanted to hear.

“I wanted the music to be emotional and appropriate to the tone of loss of loved ones in any sense of the word. I wanted the music to be heart bending, and I knew Korenich could deliver that. I knew he could take the movie to where I wanted it to be through his music,” explained Battaglia.

“When people talk to me about the film, they obviously compliment the look and the feel, but they always compliment the music in accordance with those two characteristics,” said Battaglia. “It shows that people really paid attention to the movie.”

This local film and music marriage is not just a one time occurrence, as Korenich is currently slated to do some work on director Michael Arter’s Just South of North. Korenich worked with Arter on Monhegan Light and talked to Korenich about music on a regular basis. “[Arter] told me that I reminded him of Vic Chesnutt, which was really cool,” said Korenich.

“So far we have been talking at length about concepts for songs in relation to the story as a whole. He has worked on recording samples of possible sounds for some of our soundtrack and we have been trying to gauge where we want to be going,” said Arter. “The feel of Just South of North is a mix of angsty adventure and somber revelations. We are building possible sounds for the post production process but we will not really know what needs to be recorded until the film is edited,” he added.

“There’s a good chance that the songs I record for Just South of North will also appear on that solo EP,” said Korenich. Tim Korenich will be busy putting out the solo EP, as well as releasing a new EP with The Beauregards that the group recorded in OU’s own Radio Television Building, all while working with Arter on Just South of North. Although Korenich is busy, he enjoys the work he’s doing and very much recommends that more directors use original music.

Battaglia shared those sentiments saying, “I would encourage young musicians to find young filmmakers and try to collaborate, because it’s a very rewarding experience.”

In a musical landscape where acquiring BMI rights are difficult and expensive, Athens’ directors and musicians are finding ways to improve the quality of their films through collaboration. Korenich, Battaglia, Arter, and all the Athens’ musicians who were and are a part of this symbiosis may be pioneering the next biggest trend in movie production with their unique collaboration and innovation.

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